To say that Tesla is none other than a typical automaker is an understatement as the company has developed sophisticated core technology in electric vehicle and energy storage over the years.
The following areas are Tesla main technological expertise:
- 1. Powertrain engineering
- 2. Vehicle engineer
- 3. Innovative manufacturing
- 4. Energy storage
In addition, Tesla has accumulated a portfolio of intellectual properties related to electric vehicles design and development. Specifically, Tesla can design a vehicle that incorporates the advantages of electric powertrain.
An electric powertrain has a few advantages over internal combustion engine. An internal combustion engine is far more complex to build and certainly contains a lot more moving parts than an electric powertrain. As a result, an electric powertrain is more energy efficient as it produces less heat but more power per unit weight of the engine.
For a list of detailed advantages of electric powertrain, please visit this website: Difference Between Electric Vehicles and Gas Burner
Without its core technology, Tesla will be nothing more than an auto manufacturer. Here is a list of several key technologies that Tesla is having to maintain its competitive edge:
- 1. Battery Pack
- 2. Power Electronics
- 3. Dual Motor Powertrain
- 4. Vehicle Control and Infortainment Software
- 5. Self-Driving Development
- 6. Energy Storage
- 7. Solar Energy System
Tesla may have the best battery technology in the world. The reason is the company has been doing its own research and development in battery design and manufacturing for years. As a result, the following areas are what the company is capable of doing when it comes to developing and manufacturing battery pack:
- 1. With its proprietary technology, Tesla can pack as much energy per unit weight as possible into a battery while keeping cost low, safe, reliable and durable.
- 2. In terms of battery manufacturing, Tesla has mastered the technique of manufacturing large volumes of battery packs with high quality at low cost.
- 3. Besides, Tesla has significant knowledge in the safety and management systems of using lithium-ion battery in automotive design. As such, it can optimize battery design to increase overall car performance such as acceleration from 0-60mph in 3 seconds for its vehicles.
- 4. The company also has extensive expertise in battery pack design flexibility with respect to cell chemistry and form factor.
- 5. It’s maintaining an expansive body of Knowledge on lithium-ion cell vendors, chemistry type, and performance characteristic. As a result, its expertise is not limited to battery pack level but down to individual cell level.
In summary, Tesla is continuing to evaluate new battery cells and optimize battery pack system performance and cost for its current and future electric vehicles.
Tesla has developed advanced power electronics to distribute electrical energy to its vehicles. These electrical circuitries are made up of the following components:
- 1. Electrical circuitries in the powertrain
- 2. Drive inverter
- 3. Charger
A big part of the power electronics lies in the electric vehicles powertrain. These sophisticated circuitries govern the flow of high voltage electrical current throughout the vehicles and power the induction motor to generate torque. The generated torque is used to move the vehicle and at the same time delivers energy to charge up the battery pack.
The main functionality of the drive inverter is to convert direct current (DC) from the battery pack to alternating current (AC) to drive the induction motor. The additional functionality of the drive inverter is to convert energy from “regenerative braking” to charge the battery pack.
The functionality of the charger is to charge up the battery pack by converting alternating current to direct current. The charger that Tesla developed has the advantage of charging from a wide variety of electricity sources which ranges from a common household outlet to high power sources meant for industrial use.
Dual Motor Powertrain
Tesla has developed Dual Motor Powertrain for its all-wheel drive. Dual Motor powertrain vehicles are using two induction motor instead of one which provide greater efficiency and better performance.
Each of these induction motors can be individually programmed to control the torque delivered to both front and rear wheels. As a result, an all-wheel drive vehicle is more responsive and thus providing drivers with controlled performance and increase traction control.
Vehicle Control and Infortainment Software
An electric vehicle which is as sophisticated as the one built by Tesla is of no use without any controlling software. As a result, Tesla has developed its own research and development in high-end controlling software for its vehicles.
Most of the components of its electric vehicles such as the performance, safety systems and battery packs require sophisticated control software. Tesla has put numerous micro-processors in its vehicles to control these functions and developed its owns firmware for these processors.
These micro-processors coupled with proprietary software algorithm are keys to managing the vehicles stability, traction control and the sustained acceleration as well as the regenerative braking of the vehicles. Moreover, the state of the battery pack is also monitored extensively by software to prevent overcharging and overheating.
Similar to its control software, Tesla has its own research and development in vehicle autopilot system in following areas:
- 1. Auto-steering
- 2. Traffic aware cruise control
- 3. Automated lane changing
- 4. Automated parking
- 5. Summon and driver warning system
To maintain its dominance in the electric vehicles market, Tesla has equipped its vehicles with hardware needed for full self-driving capability, including camera that provides 360-degree visibility, ultrasonic sensors for object detection, forward facing radar with enhanced processing and a powerful new onboard computer.
With Tesla proprietary autopilot system, vehicle drivers are free of most tedious and potentially dangerous aspect of road travel. The autopilot systems work just like the system that airplane pilot use when condition permits, and users are ultimately responsible for controlling the vehicles even though the system provides much of the safety and convenience features to its users.
Tesla is leveraging its expertise in vehicle battery pack to design and develop advance energy storage products which include the Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage products. With its extensive knowledge in energy storage, the company is capable of interconnecting its battery system seamlessly with global electricity grids while providing instantaneous power injection and absorption during power outage and high capacity usage.
Solar Energy System
Solar Roof is the most prominent product in solar energy system. It’s designed to work seamlessly with Powerwall 2 energy storage product.
In summary, Tesla is continuing to evaluate its core technology to maintain its competitive edge over its competitors in order to dominate the electric vehicle and energy segment market.
Disclosure:The authors wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The authors are not receiving compensation for writing the article. The authors have no business relationship with any company whose stocks are mentioned in this article.
1. All information in this article was obtained from Tesla SEC Filings.